Stumbling Stone Sedentaler Straße 18

This small brass memorial plaque commemorates:

* Tomasz Brzostowicz, born 1911, Polish prisoner of war, arrested 4 July 1940, suspected of 'racial defilement,' without court order, publicly hanged by SS 28 June 1941.

At age 28, Tomasz Brzostowicz, a Polish man, was called up for military service. Germany invaded Poland 2 months later, and 19 days after that he was captured by the Germans. He was taken to Camp Fallingbostel and then to Trills, a town near Sandheide. The Nazis considered Polish POWs "untermenschen," were used as forced laborers in industry and agriculture. Tomasz worked on a farm. Maria, age 20, was a maid there. They met. She brought him breakfast in the fields. She confided to a friend that she’d experienced an "incident." Word went around the camp, and the Düsseldorf State Police began investigating. Maria was arrested on 3 July 1940 and interrogated. She confessed to intercourse and was sentenced to two years in prison for being a German woman who had sex with a POW. Tomasz was arrested the next day and consistently denied having sexual intercouse with Maria. He was released, assessed further, and taken to Düsseldorf. But on 18 January 1941, Himmler ordered via telegram that "the Pole Brzostowicz is to be hanged near the location of the crime." Six months later, POWs from the area were forced to watch the hanging of Tomasz Brzostowicz in Erkrath.

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  • Photos: Jens-Erik Janke
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